Daytona Beach Commissioner Derrick Henry and campaign manager both arrested on multiple felony charges of absentee ballot fraud

POLITICS

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Daytona Beach City Commissioner Derrick Henry and his campaign manager, Genesis Robinson were each charged with a dozen felony counts related to absentee ballot fraud.

DAYTONA BEACH -- City Commissioner Derrick Henry and his campaign manager were arrested this morning, charged with committing absentee ballot fraud during Henry's 2010 re-election campaign.

The arrest of Henry and Genesis Robinson comes a little more than two months after Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall requested an investigation into irregularities in absentee ballot requests coming into her office.

McFall brought her concerns to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office in August, prompting the Sheriff's Office and the State Attorney's Office to immediately launch a joint investigation that ultimately led to the
filing of a dozen felony charges against both defendants.

"The investigation revealed that Henry and Robinson devised a strategy to boost Henry's re-election bid by obtaining absentee ballots for numerous people, most of whom never requested the ballots," Sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson said. "By law, residents are only allowed to request absentee ballots for themselves, immediate family members or for someone for whom they're acting as legal guardian."

McFall filed the complaint on Aug. 11 after her office received a large number of requests for absentee ballots that were all initiated from the same e-mail address. Based on the e-mail address, it appeared that the
requests came from someone with an interest in the Daytona Beach City Commission Zone 5 race.

Henry, the Zone 5 incumbent who was locked in a three-way primary, was re-elected on Aug. 24. The subsequent investigation revealed that between the two of them, Henry and Robinson had requested a total of 92 absentee ballots through the elections office's web site, according to the Sheriff's Office.

"Four of the absentee ballots were found at Henry's house when investigators searched it on Sept. 23. Investigators also recovered absentee ballot applications and receipts for some of the absentee ballots along with handbooks outlining Florida election laws," Davidson said. "The four absentee ballots were found under a computer keyboard."

Investigators from both the Sheriff's Office and the State Attorney's
Office interviewed many of the 92 people for whom absentee ballots were
requested.

"What they heard was a variety of stories," Davidson said. "For instance, one resident said she received an absentee ballot in the mail even though she hadn't requested one. A few days later, she said one of Henry's campaign workers showed up at her house and asked if she had received her ballot and had filled it out. The resident said she got the ballot while the campaign worker waited. Then she filled it out, sealed and signed the ballot and turned it over to the campaign worker."

In another case, a resident said that Henry offered to get him an absentee ballot and the resident agree, Davidson said, But when the ballot arrived at the man's house, it came with a second ballot for a former resident who had moved away in 2007.

In yet another instance, two requests that were made in the name of a resident were subsequently rejected by the elections office because the resident's voter status had been classified as inactive, Davidson said So investigators sought out the man to see if he knew why the absentee ballot requests had been made on his behalf. But after investigating, officials discovered that the man didn't request the ballots and hasn't lived or voted in Florida in more than two decades, the Sheriff's spokesman said.

Henry also had requested an absentee ballot for his niece, listing her address as a home registered to Henry that was located within Zone 5. But investigators discovered that even though the niece used the
absentee ballot to vote in the Zone 5 race, she actually lives at a different location in the city, outside of Zone 5. Investigators also spoke to several others who confirmed that they hadn't asked for an absentee ballot and had no idea that the Henry campaign had requested a ballot for them.

During an interview with investigators, Robinson acknowledged coming up with the strategy of applying on-line for absentee ballots, saying that Henry had approved the idea back in April when Robinson presented it to him. Robinson said it was done in an effort to increase voter turnout and improve Henry's chances of re-election. Henry was re-elected in the municipal election with 65 percent of the vote, beating his nearest competitor by nearly 600 votes.

Based on the findings of the investigation, Circuit Court Judge R. Michael Hutcheson issued arrest warrants this morning for both Henry and Robinson.

Henry, 41, is charged with two counts of absentee ballots and voting violations, nine counts of being a principal to absentee ballots and voting violations and one count of conspiracy to
commit absentee ballots and voting violations.

Robinson, 21, is facing 11 counts of being a principal to absentee ballots and voting violations and one count of conspiracy to commit absentee ballots and voting violations. All of the charges are third-degree felonies.

Both surrendered at the Justice Center to State Attorney's Office and Sheriff's Office investigators and transported to the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach. Both were in custody on $6,000 bond each.

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving the Daytona Beach-New Smyrna Beach / Sanford-Orlando metropolitan region via HeadlineSurfer.com, launched in 2008, as Florida's first around-the-clock online newspaper. Frederick is among Florida's most experienced reporters specializing in breaking news & investigative reporting and winner of multiple state, regional & national journalism awards in Florida, New York, Massachusetts & Connecticut. The first of his three books, "Creepy Ass Cracker" (842 pages, Xlibris), hits bookstores this Fall. 
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